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Salmon have workaround Willow Creek barrier with new weir

Workers sandbag Willow Creek to allow for removal of water and any fish before construction of a fish weir gets underway.  - Alistair Taylor/The Mirror
Workers sandbag Willow Creek to allow for removal of water and any fish before construction of a fish weir gets underway.
— image credit: Alistair Taylor/The Mirror

A way around a barrier to fish passage on Willow Creek began this week.

Erosion to the creek bed near Highway 19A has exposed three pipes that have become a potential barrier to fish passage. Two of the pipes are the city’s and one pipe belongs to Telus. The city and Telus have worked together to develop a plan to address the barrier, and applications under the provincial Water Act and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) were approved.

The project was expected to take approximately one week.

Since relocating the Telus infrastructure is cost prohibitive and removal of the abandoned concrete-encased sewer was anticipated to cause more problems for fish in the creek, new weirs are being built to prevent erosion and help the fish travel past this area.

“Removing the barrier to fish passage is the priority,” Ron Neufeld, deputy city manager and general manager of operations for the City of Campbell River, said in a press release. “Rather than removing the pipe, constructing two weirs in the creek will create pools to allow the fish to travel over the Telus pipe and prevent future erosion in the creek.”

The city has worked closely with DFO, Greenways Land Trust, and the Willow Creek Streamkeepers to ensure that the design and construction provide the best available option.

The work is being done by Upland Contracting. Before work began, the affected section of creek was isolated and any fish within that area will be relocated outside of the construction zone. The creek will then be drained so that work can occur in dry conditions. Equipment needed for the work will access the creek from the Ken Forde boat ramp and the beach. Some sandy material will need to removed from the creek bed so that rock being used to build the weirs can be placed into the streambed.

The sandy material may be temporarily placed beside the Ken Forde boat ramp at the base of the rip rap.

Some of sand is expected to migrate north along the shore during winter weather, and any material remaining at this location in 2015 will be removed during the annual maintenance period and used for beach restoration.

Environmental monitoring for the project will be done by Mainstream Biological Consulting to ensure that best management practices are in place while the work is underway.

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